In the wild-card round of the NL playoffs, the New York Mets will host the San Diego Padres in a three-game series at Citi Field in New York. The Padres took four of the six head-to-head meetings between these teams during the regular season. However, the Mets are favored to take the series with a -170 moneyline (best price at Caesars) compared to San Diego’s +164 moneyline (best price at FanDuel).
New York’s Pitching
The Mets are poised to roll out their big guns in the wild-card Round, sending Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt (if necessary) to the mound. On paper, this is one of the top rotation trios in the postseason. However, all three head into the playoffs on a somewhat sour note.
With deGrom, the Mets waited half the season to get him back from injury, and while he was dominant at times, he hit some roadblocks down the stretch. The two-time Cy Young winner was 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA in August, including losses to the Cubs, A’s and Braves. He still struck out 47 batters in 28 innings over his last five starts, so his stuff is still electric. Scherzer also took a loss in his final start of the season in a must-win game against the Braves. Of course, he does boast postseason experience and pitched to a 2.29 ERA over 23 starts this year. Bassitt also lost to the Braves in his final start of the season, getting bounced in the third inning Sunday. He also got knocked around by the Padres in June, giving up seven runs over 3.1 innings. On the bright side, the Mets have still won 10 of his last 12 starts.
San Diego’s Pitching
The Padres had the sixth-best rotation ERA in the National League this year, while the Mets finished second. San Diego’s pitching depth didn’t necessarily pan out as the Padres would have liked, although they still have an excellent trio in Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell lined up to start in the wild-card round.
Darvish might be the hottest pitcher in baseball right now. He finished the season with 16 wins in 30 starts and a 3.10 ERA. But he also went 5-1 with a 1.85 ERA over his six starts in September. More importantly, he allowed one run on six hits in 14 innings across two starts against the Mets this season. Musgrove had an equally strong finish to the season, yielding just one run over his final four starts of the season, yielding just 15 hits across 22 innings in those starts. The caveat is he took a loss in his only start against the Mets this season. Finally, Snell endured some low moments in 2022 but managed to finish on a good note. On August 24, his ERA sat at 4.14 but was lowered to 3.38 over his final seven starts of the season.
The Mets should benefit by being able to host all three games in this series. They boasted the fifth-best home record in the majors this season at 54-27 (.667). In other words, they won two out of every three home games, which is all they need to do against the Padres this weekend. However, the Padres had the fourth-best road record in the National League this season, finishing 45-36 (.556) away from home. They were also the best team in baseball as a road underdog, going 19-16 SU (.543) in those situations, one of just three teams with a winning record as a road underdog (the Guardians and Mets being the others).
Meanwhile, Snell could end up being the real wild card in this round. The Mets were the second-best team in baseball this year against right-handed starters, going 68-38 (.642), while the Padres were a modest 58-49 (.542) against righties. But the Mets had trouble with lefties at times, finishing 32-23 (.582) against left-handed starters, potentially giving the Padres a slight edge in that regard.
Momentum appears to be on San Diego's side with the way their starting pitchers finished the regular season. But the slate gets wiped clean when the playoffs begin. Rolling out deGrom, Scherzer and Bassitt in a three-game series could prove difficult for a San Diego lineup that underachieved expectations, finishing 15th in OPS and 12th in runs scored this season. The Mets also have home-field advantage, which could make a huge difference given their home record this season.
Pick: Mets win series, 2-1.